Seminar Series for Trinity Term 2017 

2.30 to 4.00 pm.

Refreshments available from 2pm. All welcome.

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A series of seminars designed to give scholars and graduate students a chance to present their in-progress research. Time is allocated for asking questions and sharing comments.

You can download the seminar programme by simply clicking the button or you can browse the titles and abstracts below.



Najah Ahmad (DPhil Candidate, St Antony's College, University of Oxford)

The centrality of knowledge in the Islamic faith cannot be missed. According to Muslim exegetes, knowledge is the first thing which God gives to Ādam (Q 2:31, And He taught Ādam the names) and the only thing of which He asks Prophet Muḥammad to seek an increase (Q 20:114, and say, ‘My Lord, increase me in knowledge.’). The references in Islamic Scriptures (Qur’ān and Hadith) which connect knowledge to faith are numerous. The majority indicates that knowledge is something which is given by God to believers, but there are also significant references which command human beings to acquire knowledge. The relationship between knowledge and faith has, therefore, been the subject of classical and contemporary debates amongst Muslim scholars, ranging from theologians, philosophers, jurists, and Sufis. In light of the Qur’anic emphasis that knowledge is something which is given, this seminar addresses two main problems: the first is regarding the human capacity to acquire knowledge and the second is the extent to which knowledge is a precondition of faith or vice versa.
Dr John Chesworth (Research Officer, School of Philosophy, Theology and Religion, University of Birmingham)

The paper introduces the work of the research project ‘Christian-Muslim Relations. A Bibliographical History’, which brings together the known writings by Christians and Muslims about and against one another for the period 600-1914. The project’s findings are published by Brill, as part of the History of Christian-Muslim Relations series, the first volume was published in 2009. The approach used in the project and the method of presentation of the results are exemplified using material from the most recent volume, 10, which covers the Ottoman and Safavid Empires (1600-1700); examples cited are from Armenian, Georgian, Safavid and Western sources. The paper will address the following questions: What did the Safavid court know about Christianity? How were Christians treated by Safavids? How did Armenians and Georgians respond to their treatment under the Safavids? John Chesworth Research Officer, Christian-Muslim Relations: A Bibliographical History 1500-1900 University of Birmingham
Alasdair Watson (Bodleian Libraries & Oriental Institute, Oxford)

When the Bodleian Library opened in 1602 it held a single Arabic manuscript - a copy of the Qur’an. 350 years later, it held over 10,000 manuscript works in Arabic, Persian and Turkish. This illustrated seminar highlights some of the Bodleian’s rich collections – both Oriental and Western – as a window onto the history of European knowledge of and engagement with Islam and the Islamic world.
Dejan Azdajic (PhD Candidate, Oxford Centre for Mission Studies)

This seminar is an excerpt of a long-term ethnographic study conducted among living Sufi practitioners in Bosnia. The seminar focuses on the role of the charismatic Shaikh in regards to the everyday leadership life of the community, as well as his role in guiding Sufi disciples on their journey to attain proximity to God. Common Ideas between Sufism and Christianity are explored, with possible applications for interreligious dialogue.